Posted 10/19/11 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
Greg Brown, Watford City’s cross country head coach, has always been a little cautious when it comes to how he predicts his teams will do at State.
Maybe his hesitancy to predict has been that he doesn’t want to brag. Or maybe it’s because he knows how hard it is to predict how runners will react to the pressure of a State Cross Country Meet.
But this year, he seems to be stepping a little outside the box when he says that the Watford City Wolves girls cross country team could be State Champions.
Is Brown’s prediction to be taken as bragging, or is it fact?
This year, he says the girls’ performances all season speak for themselves.
“The girls have worked all season to get to the top ranking,” says Brown. “Now that we have the top ranking in the state, we have the target on our back.”
And with what he calls the best 1-2 combination in the state, Asha Smith and Kade Ross, he truly believes the Wolves could very well win State.
“Asha will be running in the top three at the State Meet,” states Brown. “She is ranked third by the coaches of the state, but I see her as being the runner that is overlooked. She has put herself in a position where she could win the State Meet and will definitely be up front with two freshmen and a senior pushing for the championship.”
Brown’s No. 2 runner is senior Kade Ross, who is on a mission to have a good showing at State.
“Kade has worked hard this season to get back into form from her sophomore year,” states Brown. “She placed 10th in State her sophomore year, and then had a rough junior season. Realistically, Kade could also be pushing for the championship and running in the top five as she is currently ranked ninth in the State polls.”
And Brown knows that it’s going to take a team effort for any school to win the State Championship which is why he likes Watford City’s odds.
“Our three, four and five runners are going to have to work hard and be competitive,” states Brown. “We have to make the passes and not let anybody by us in the finish sprints.”
While he admits that there are other teams that can put four runners across the finish line, there are very few teams that have five runners as good as his top seven runners.
“It comes down to a numbers game on placing and all seven runners are going to have to work extremely hard to get out at the beginning of the race and not get caught in the wrong pack,” says Brown. “We have been working hard at pace the past couple of weeks, but at the State Meet it really does come down to guts and pain. There is no easy way of running 2.4 or 3.1 miles. To be the best, you have to work hard and be able to tell your body that it does not hurt. These athletes will work extremely hard at the State Meet and push themselves to new levels on the course.”
Rounding out Brown’s girls team is Addison Sundeen, Lea Arndt, Bessie Schmitz, Tara Loomer and Kara Wold.
“Addison is a very steady and competitive runner and she is the highest placer on our team from last year,” says Brown. “Her times all season have stayed within about 30 seconds. She is a solid, gusty runner who knows how to get it done, and I predict she will be fighting for a top-20 spot.”
“Lea is a fast runner and we haven’t fully seen her speed yet on the cross country course,” says Brown. “I feel that at any time, she could put a full race together and shock many people. State, this year, could be that race.”
Bessie Schmitz is another steady runner whom Brown says has gotten better each race.
“Bessie has the ability to really turn up her speed at the State Meet,” says Brown. “In the past two years, she has shown great time improvements at the State Meet, and last year she pushed Lea to be our number 3 runner.
Tara Loomer and Kara Wold, according to Brown, are both strong runners.
“Tara has been battling with Bessie all season to see who will be the number 5 runner on the team, while Kara is going to be a really good runner in years to come.”
While Brown is not predicting a State Championship from the boys team, he is optimistic that the boys can be in the top eight at State.
“The goal that we set at the beginning of the year for the boys team was to have every runner under 20 minutes for their 3.1 mile race and to be in the top 8 team-wise,” states Brown. “I feel we have a great opportunity ahead of us, because I feel that all five of our boys can break the 20-minute mark.”
And if the boys can do that, he believes that they will be in the top eight teams.
“I see our team doing better than an 8th place finish,” says Brown. “All the boys have worked extremely hard and I believe when we get into a large number situation, we will place high. We run as a group and put many runners in very close together and that will help in placing at State.”
Members of the boys team are Guy Ross, Dustin Kleppen, Logan Gumke, John Meuchel and Ted Ramage.
The State Class B Cross Country Meet will be held at the Rose Creek Golf Course in Fargo on Saturday, Oct. 22. The Class B girls will run at 2 p.m. with the boys running at 2:45 p.m.